I've been pondering this on and off for a while: I think petrol stations in the UK are ripping us off ever since the price cracked £1 a litre.

Unlike South Africa, and other countries, the UK's petrol prices are not regulated (only heavily taxed). Accordingly, petrol companies are free to charge what they like for a litre of petrol, and some do. Texaco, for example, is notorious for being one of the most expensive petrol station chains in the UK, with supermarkets and Esso vying for the title of the cheapest.

As the price of petrol is not regulated, the prices fluctuate almost on a weekly basis, which is understandable as the price of oil fluctuates too (we'll ignore the fact that oil is traded on the futures market for the moment). Prior to the price of petrol cracking £1 a litre, these fluctuations were in the range of fractions of a penny, now I can't help but notice they only fluctuate by whole pennies, and just as frequently.

EVERY petrol station I drive past on the various routes to and from work are now always displaying the price as £1.##.9 a litre. The .9 pennies bit never changes - this is probably the petrol stations using the same trick supermarkets use to give the appearance something is cheaper than it really is: £4.99 appears to be much cheaper than £5.00.

I know the duty on petrol has gone up 2p a litre, and the price of oil fluctuates, but it's certainly not fluctuating to the extent that it warrants a whole penny (or more) change in either direction every time.

So why is the price fluctuating by such a large margin? Is someone bumping their profits at my expense? I think so.